the angry sarcastic post

Well, stuff around here was all sunshine and roses (no it wasn’t) (and by stuff, I mean my stuff, as in, say, my mental health) until it wasn’t (again–never was) and basically I’ve hit my wall.

Ah, the proverbial wall. I thought I had sailed right over it, but as it turned out, I wasn’t watching where I was going and I ran smack into it at 200 mph. And my wall is 700 feet tall and made of ice and broken dreams.

People, stuff went south so fast that I don’t even know if it actually went south or if it faked and raced northwest and took out a restraining order against me.

I’ve officially reached the point in the babies’ first year called “Eff you, Patricia.” I accomplished a weight gain of no less than 10 pounds in the span of one month, thanks to being physically immobilized by three little ones in my arms, lap, and hanging off my back (and stress-drinking caffeinated beverages). I’ve lost patience with literally everyone. Not even my neighbor’s dog is safe. (I hardly ever see it or hear it, but I guarantee I’ve lost patience with it.)

I’m unimpressed by mom stories and platitudes. “They won’t be little for long!” NO DIP SHERLOCK, did you figure that out when the oldest of your two kids turned the big 1-2? I’ve heard this effectively 83 bajillion times since my firstborn arrived, and it is as helpful now as it was back in 1996, so take that smiley-faced emoji–the one with the squinty eyes and pink cheeks–and shove. it.

What I need to know is: at what point does coffee pose an immediate threat to my health, and how much Benadryl can I add to the brownies I’m making for my kids?

(Everyone calm down, I don’t actually have time to bake freakin’ brownies.)

But can we all agree to stop spouting ridiculous advice to new mothers?

I can’t hear another “Hardy har har, looks like you got your hands full!”

(Seriously, who says that to a woman whose babies are screaming in a grocery cart while her toddler yanks at her hair and another kid throws a dadgum fit out of nowhere for candy in the checkout line? THE ANSWER IS OF COURSE EVERYONE.)

I cannot listen to another thing from anyone, not even mothers of twins. “Oh you had twins? That’s cool I guess but have you ever tried twins plus a demanding toddler and a 4-year-old who I’m pretty sure is part of the Insane Clown Posse and two sad-eyed older kids whose emotional needs are never met and who have 3 zillion activities that you get to drag all four little ones around to?

Y’all sometimes I just smile and nod and go straight back to doing whatever works for me which is nothing on most days. I need to call in the even bigger big guns but I only know medium guns.

I’m almost done (not really) but let me clarify before I wrap up: Caleb helps. Caleb helps like no other. Caleb helps more than your husband or her husband or all the husbands combined. He’s a bonafide daddy-on-the spot and has been known to drop everything in the middle of the day and rush home to hold a baby/wash dishes/take Arbor and Lucy to the store/change a blowout diaper one-handed with his eyes closed. I am not doing anything that he won’t also partake in when he’s not working at his actual job that feeds and houses our family. And he’s 81% hotter than me while he does it all, too.

Mia and Merrick are incredible as well; they leap into action when they see me struggling, and don’t complain when I do ask for help. I try not to rely on them too much though, because they are still young’uns themselves, and I for sure won’t ask them to do anything that brings me, the mother of all these dragons, to tears (so watching all four at once for more than five minutes is pretty much ruled out, y’all.)

So, family life in this house is loud, and crazy, and exhausting, and not for the faint nor the mildly strong of heart. Anyone coming over between the hours of 8 am and 10 pm will instantly regret it, unless they like the smell of dog hair and dirty diapers, and the sound of tornado sirens going off in their ears every five minutes. (I am so serious. A thing I just said to my 22-month old: “Please stop screaming! It is so loud and it hurts my ears and my heart! I’m going to have a heart attack and die from your screaming!”)

I did this to myself.

I created this circus, which is me on fire surrounded by constantly pooping lions and tigers who can scream. It’s wild, and it’s tew much.

(end rant.) (deep cleansing breath.) (2nd cup of coffee.)


Find rest

I had big plans for myself last month. Like, I got over-confident, in a big way. So if anyone needs me I’ll be over here engaging in epic power struggles with a toddler, reading “The Foot Book” 81 times a day, consistently enforcing rules, and keeping to strict routines like it’s my paying job. Also using my octopus arms to feed two babies at a time, while simultaneously serving as a human jungle gym to two larger children, plus apologizing to Merrick and Mia for the 4th-night-in-a-row-Cheerios-for-dinner, and texting my husband with my nose. And I’m not answering my phone because the house is so loud, and full of terrors. (Text me, please, and I’ll get back to you within 1-700 business days.)

I’m slacking. My 2019 agenda includes things I am far from accomplishing, and all I do is sit and mentally add things to a list of stuff ain’t nobody got time for. Like I know I should be finding my rest in Jesus but that Tulsa half-marathon is not going to run itself.

So many times this year I’ve been challenged to dig deep, and find it within myself to not just “push through” but to excel. Whether it’s something so earth-shaking as having newborn twins in the NICU, or as mundane as wiping a butt for the thousandth time, each day has presented me with some sort of struggle. And man, I’m running low on strength.

Y’all I’m tired. And still, I’m slacking. I second-guess everything that comes out of my head, and I worry that my words and my thoughts and my actions aren’t Christian enough; that maybe I’m not Christian enough, and it gets me down, to the point where I just wanna break from it all. Maybe if I just give in for a bit–stop striving so hard for godliness and just settle for “authenticity”–crank my gangster rap and chug some beers; let my rage go unchecked, let the cuss words fly freely from my mouth…but I know where that road always leads me.

I’ve had way too many people pat me on the back and congratulate me for being good enough. They thank me for being “real”, but if being real means anchoring myself in my sin, then I can’t do it. Connecting to a hurting world doesn’t mean flinging myself in the rocks and mud that I’ve just been lifted out of, not when I’ve experienced something better.

Christianity is for the “real” me. Loving the person of Jesus Christ, in all His Glory and perfection, is for the impatient, hot-tempered, pessimistic me who can’t stop yelling. Following Jesus is infinitely better than following this guy or this lady or that writer or my friends who all believe one thing or another. People are confusing and I’m too broken to unriddle them.

So, right now, all I can do is hide my face, because sometimes God’s work in any given heart is not meant to be put on proud display. Sometimes the work is dusty and dirty and MOS DEF not worthy of the ‘gram.

I’m so very tired…but God is moving in my life. And maybe simply letting Him is what it means to find rest.

Here’s what else I know: the people that God gave me to love–they live in my house with me. I have to love them well, because it is my highest calling. The place where God has put me is right here on my gravel road, in my tiny green farming community–I must serve it well. Here in Oklahoma is where I be His hands and feet–warts and sin and bad grammar and all.

girl reach up

Is it just me or are there a lot of books out lately that are telling me what a stud I am while simultaneously bossing me around, like “Girl, you’re awesome and you got this, but go wash your face cause you’re a train wreck who could be a model with a successful career in journalism if you didn’t love cheese so much”..? It’s probably just me.

I love me some good common sense cleverly packaged as novel-yet-scripture-based advice as much as the next person, but I’ll pass, since I am pretty much a pro at being my own personal hype-man. (I’m like, really good at believing in myself; sometimes too good, as evidenced by the unintentional over-abundance of children that currently reside in my household.)

I know I am chosen and worthy; I can find bible verse upon bible verse that tells me I am wonderfully made, or reminds me to be strong and courageous. Also–not trying to brag–technically I’m the daughter of a king.

There’s a time and a place to reflect upon these truths, and if you don’t want to pick up a bible, just skim social media for two seconds and find a crap ton of #selflove #selfcare #selfidontevenknowwhat posts. Go to Target and buy fifty different T-shirts that say “Gorgeous Buff Princess Alert, Lick My Feet and Bring Me Coffee”. Turn on any given television show and watch an untold number of females engage in badassery of the tenth degree.

I might be a frumpy 38-year-old mom of 7, but if I get any more empowered, I’m liable to braid my hair and take back the Iron Throne.

You know what I’ve found, though? The times when I feel the most down, on my darkest days, when I’m longing to hear someone tell me that I’m good, or beautiful or smart…

…those are the days when God points me away from myself.

I want so badly to feel excellent about myself, but I realize just how much pride lives behind that desire. If only I were just skinnier and funnier! Or if I baked killer cupcakes and became both the darling of the PTA and a woman valued more than rubies in the eyes of her children and husband. Gimme that approval of man…then…then, I could be happier; then I could serve God with confidence (self confidence, while wearing cute jeans too.)

But I am directed back again and again to Paul, and how he begged to God to remove the thorn in his flesh…whatever that thorn was, it must have felt like such a hindrance to what Paul thought he should be accomplishing, or who Paul wanted to be.

To keep me from becoming conceited…there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

–2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Paul battled, as we all do, but he got it right.

It wasn’t about his happiness being maintained, or his goals being achieved or his dreams coming true. It was about Jesus, only Jesus.

I’m not designed to stand proud in and of myself and my abilities–when I chase that rabbit, I wind up in a hole that’s almost impossible to climb out of. Life is hard no matter how clean my gut is, or how much money I make. Mustering up enough girl power to slay in every category of womanhood is a dang heavy burden. I am overwhelmed just thinking about it.

I turn the pages of my bible in tears, searching for words that will make me feel stronger, prettier, better. I cry out to God; I just don’t feel like I’m enough.

And God says “No, you have this backwards. I am enough.”

He tells me that Toni didn’t live the perfect sinless life. Toni didn’t sacrifice herself on a cross, defeat Satan and death, and come back to life. Toni is not victorious.

Jesus is victorious.

Toni fails time and time again at daughter-ing, friend-ing, wife-ing, and mothering. Toni struggles with greed and laziness and gluttony and pride and anger more than she would ever admit. Toni overcomes none of it.

Jesus overcomes.

Toni makes random, feeble, earthly attempts to love the way Jesus loved.

But Jesus is love.

The world need less of me and more of Him.

If I’m happy it’s because Jesus has comforted me in my sadness, not because I got up and washed my face.

If I am strong at all, it’s because I leaned on Him while I was incredibly weak; not because I wore designer yoga pants and harnessed my inner warrior goddess queen.

If I am ever confident, it’s because He lifted me out of my pit, not because I picked myself up by my bootstraps.

If I am loving and patient and kind, then it is because of Christ living in my heart and my muscles and bones. My body is not my own; my life is for Him.

And if I am blessed, I’m blessed because of what He’s given me, and y’all: He has given me everything.

battle worn

Today the whole left side of my face is twitching like crazy and my food tastes like soap, in case you were wondering what it feels like to have twin babies and a 22-month-old plus an Arbor, a couple ball-obsessed older children, and a husband who is completely and utterly out-of-pocket because his boss likes to come in town from time to time because obviously he would like to see my Bell’s Palsy return with a vengeance.

The old Toni (from way back three days ago) would have panicked at the thought of spending any length of time during ball season without my parenting partner-in-crime, but new Toni has been blessed with the realization that most people are super nice and they genuinely want to help.

Whether it be offering rides to and from a game, or rocking a twin on a bleacher or chasing a toddler or feeding a whiny 4-year-old, I’ve discovered that the folks in my circle are in fact “the village” that everyone talks about: raising my kids right along with me; taking pictures of my son on the pitcher’s mound, cheering for my daughter at bat. “Want me to hold a baby while you take her to the bathroom?” “Can I do anything for you?” “I would love to feed a baby while you feed the other baby/chase Lucy/wipe the dirt off that ridiculously-priced smooshed hotdog.”

Can I just say that I am proud to be part of such a wonderful community?

And one day, when all my babies are grown and I’m sitting in a pop-up chair beside the dugout with zero children in my lap and not a care in the world, I hope I walk over to that frazzled struggling mother and offer my free hands just as people have done for me time and time again.

Oklahoma you guys. Nowhere is friendlier than here, which is great when you have a lopsided face.

In other news,

Haha SIKE, there is no other news, I have no life outside my children. 25/8 and it don’t stop!

I’ve rage-quit running for now because the stunning lack of hours in a day really just downright angers me.

ME: “What do you mean, I can choose between going for a run, taking a shower, or eating an actual meal?”

UNIVERSE: “Ah yes, you see–those are just some of the choices available to you within a 24-hour time frame. Other options include: cleaning your house in any way; pooping with one baby on your lap instead of two; or taking 19 minutes to realize that no, you can’t fit into your 2016 jeans.”

ME: “What about sleep, or setting aside some special time with my husband?”


UNIVERSE: “Oh–…oh. I thought you were joking. These levels are not going to be unlocked until 2029, unless you want to give up showering entirely.”

ME: “If I give up showering, then my husband won’t want to even touch me.”

UNIVERSE: “And therein lies the genius.”

I’m good, though, in all seriousness. Are there days when I call my husband sobbing uncontrollably? Sure. Will it be easier to set my house on fire and rebuild it than to clean it at this point? Probably. But there are perks, so many perks:

Getting children–and all their paraphernalia–into the car burns twice as many calories as a 30-minute run. It is known.

Arbor and Lucy have both learned to go to bed without a fuss regardless of who tucks them in. Half the time, Lucy specifically asks for Mia to carry her to her bed. This is precious.

I can drink half a pot of fully caffeinated coffee at 5 p.m. without worrying about how it will affect my sleep; I will still pass out in a puddle of my own slobber by 10:00, 10:04 if I make time for Caleb. That’s precious, too.

And on the off-chance that I am too wide awake? Well, I have my trusty exercise bike, so I can keep my pre-pregnancy legs and eat out of the secret stash of Easter candy, guilt-free.

This is a good life.

Parenting while highly sensitive

Deeeeeeeeeep cleansing breath.

Fires in wood burning stoves

Sleepy little girls in pajamas

Chunky quilts

White farmhouses

The smell of dirt

Sidewalk chalk

Butter-yellow tulips

Glowing sunsets

Gravel roads

Evening runs

The sound of the wind

Baseball gloves

Red beans and rice

I love me the weeks of March, but it is just the beginning of yet another one of our busy seasons–perhaps our busiest, with school coming to a close and both of the older kids playing ball. Sometimes (multiple times, everyday) I have to take a meditative breathing break in a quiet room (which doesn’t exist) just to make it until dinner time without totally losing my

um, cool.

…which has been known to happen.

If you’ve spent any time around me you might have picked up on my tendencies to flip the junk out. I’m a major freaker-outer. It’s taken me a long time to learn keep my emotions from getting the best of me–I always thought I just had a hot temper (I do) or that I’m over-dramatic (I am).

But I’m also physically affected by all the things–sounds. Smells. Lights. Movement. Touch. Pain. Activity. SOUNDS.

  • Dishes clatter in the kitchen and the dogs trot back and forth across the floor: my heartbeat quickens.
  • Kids shuffling around with backpacks, shoes left where they shouldn’t be, homework and mail strewn across a formerly cleared surface: I unintentionally contort my face and stare and focus on nothing else but the mess.
  • Waking up at 5:30 or 8:15 rather than 6:50 a.m.: my entire day is out of sync.
  • A sharp shrill sudden noise–a dog bark or a child shrieking: my heart leaps into my throat and stays there.
  • Someone comes home smelling like warm vanilla sugar body spray or fantabulous freesia nightmare lotion: instant migraine complete with visual disturbances.
  • Breastfeeding babies while cuddling one kid while another kid climbs on my back and then they all break out into recreational screaming: I can feel my pulse in my ears.
  • Caleb’s need to process all the thoughts in his head by relaying them to me vocally: my stomach knots up (because car dealers and bank executives and math).
  • Mia’s need to process all the thoughts in her head by relaying them to me vocally: my brain freezes up like a computer with a virus.
  • Crowds and traffic: my chest tightens.
  • Company for more than two days and my routine is disrupted and things are shuffled out of place and clutter is everywhere and activity is nonstop: I’m actually nauseous just thinking about it. (But I do love my company.)
  • Errands to run on any given day: full-blown panic attack the night before.
  • Silverware clanging, glaring overhead lights, kids jumping running squealing talking asking asking asking, tv blaring, shirt scratching, breeze blowing, phone ringing, piles of folded laundry existing. By the end of the day (and sometimes the beginning of the day), I’ve got my noise-cancelling headphones on and I’m trying not to cry. Scratch that, I am crying.

I’m on sensory overload. I’m easily over-stimulated

and it shows.

This makes for quite the suckish hell-on-earth when you’re a parent, period, much less the parent of several small children, one of whom seems to share your inability to handle a full-blown assault on the senses. (not naming any names, but:)

I’ve had to make some adjustments in how our family runs for my well-being and for the survival of my children.

It’s why I try to get enough sleep at night.

It’s why I make my kids go to bed by 7:00 p.m.

It’s why we read books and do puzzles and paint and turn on calming movies with subtitles on silent, rather than play video games or watch obnoxious kids’ tv shows.

It’s why I play gentle music and ocean sounds in the babies’ room.

It’s why we buy unscented everything and it’s why I forbid my daughters perfumes and lotions and it’s why I regift stuff from Bath & Body Works. (Sorryyyyy…)

It’s why I sometimes literally cry when Arbor screams and I’m doing everything I can to keep myself from screaming right back.

It’s why basketball games are just the worst. (Squeaky shoes, banging ball, shouting parents, uncomfortable bleachers, horrible whistles, hot and stuffy old-smelling gymnasium, loud crowds, and buzzers? Kill me.)

It’s why we take our kids to the mountains instead of Disney World.

It’s why I abused alcohol and destroyed my health and sanity in my second round of parenting littles.

It’s why I have a cow when plans change last minute.

It’s why I need advanced notice of everything and I don’t love surprises, like at all, ever.

It’s why I avoid loosely-coordinated group activities in crowded places.

It’s why I stopped volunteering for Wednesday night children’s church. (I will not back down from this no matter who asks my pastor to gripe me out: fifty hyped-up grade-school children yelling and running around in a orange room with fluorescent lighting at the end of a long day in the middle of a long week turned me and my kids into legit monsters every Wednesday night at 7:45 p.m., and it took us until Saturday to un-psycho ourselves; some folks can take it but this clan of McNuggets cannot.)

It’s why I wear my headphones and drink my ice water and draw and consciously try not to hyperventilate when it’s 8:00 at night and I’ve been touched and talked to all day and I can feel my head and my heart being so tightly wound up…

At the end of the day I am physically and emotionally drained; frazzled; fried to the point that I feel absolutely shell-shocked; sometimes even regular days with kids being regular kids is just hard.

Yesterday was one of those days.

Today was better.

keeping the hits coming

It’s mildly hilarious to me how many of my friends are so confused about my postpartum weight loss (which is truly nothing spectacular); it’s as if nobody remembers how much work babies are. And then of course, baby + baby + 18-month-old + post-pregnancy night sweats + no dairy = -35 pounds naturally. ( + Arbor = resting heart rate of 4,000 beats per minute.)

It’s those months after weaning, though, for me, that are so flipping hard–mainly because I so easily grow accustomed to a calorie intake of biblical proportions required to support multiple human lives. And well, once I’m done breastfeeding, dem pounds just creep straight back on and they are dang near impossible to shake.

And y’all I love food, like, so much.

But I want to be strong and I want to run fast, so if I need to limit my bread consumption to half a giant loaf per day, then so be it.

The running is…well…I’m doing my best. So far I’ve set a lofty goal for myself of not dying after a two-mile half-jog, half-walk. I’m impatient and frustrated with my lack of progress but I forget that I just got going again last week.

Not gonna lie: 39 is barreling toward me at light speed and all the sudden I’m noticing things that I always said would never bother me: gray hairs, wrinkles around my eyes, thin lips, and sagging…everything. Getting older is harder than I thought it was gonna be. I don’t love it.

How do some women age so gracefully? How tho? How do some women have time to hit the gym and work full-time and where do they find the willpower to wake up at 5 am and go for a run and not eat chocolate chips for lunch?

I have so many questions.

Don’t you like sleep? Is it hard to eat salad more than once a week? At what point in your life did you realize you had the metabolism of a hyperactive squirrel? Do you have to be so tiny around me? Can you wrap your fingers around your own wrist?

(I can’t, and it’s bothered me ever since the 4th grade when my friends and I had a “how skinny are you?” throw down on the back of the school bus. It was the first time in my life I felt “fat”, though no one ever said a much.)

And while it’s true that I possess the world’s shortest, stubbiest fingers that don’t easily lend themselves to wrist-wrapping anyway, I admit to some long-held insecurities about my weight–and, now, about my gray hair and wrinkles.

I do sometimes lose sight of what’s important (read: not my waist size) but I try to remember that I was indeed designed just-so by God and built exactly to His perfect specifications both inside and out. My stubby man hands? Perfect for finger painting. My line-backer-esque shoulders have carried all the children. My wrinkles display how much I’ve laughed and cried and lived, and fortunately, gray is all up in my color wheel.

I will master that two-mile run before spring is over with. I will. And I’ll be rocking the world’s happiest pair of crows’ feet when I do.

things I tell my daughter

Hey girl haayyyyy. You’re, like, really good at softball. I love watching you play. I love watching you stick your tongue out when you’re up to bat. I love the look on your face after making an awesome play. I love seeing your arms so tan and your freckles so freckly, and your messy hair and dirty clothes and the biggest smile plastered across your face hours after a game. I love the confidence that comes from hard work paying off.

I love it.

But know this: it’s not the only thing I love about you. And this? Softball? It’s not everything. You are so much more than an athlete. You are my daughter, my chocolate-chip-brown-eyed girl, a child of God, an encouraging friend, a promising student. I want you to enjoy these years. I want you to enjoy playing this game.

I want you to work your very hardest, and give your team your very best. Maximum effort–at practices, at games…I want you to have a good attitude, in the field or on the bench. I want you to push yourself. Go the extra mile, in life–which includes sports.

No, you will never be able to or allowed to play tournament/travel ball in addition to high school ball, even if it will improve your game. I love you, I love your passion for this sport, but you will not. Our family is not built for it. I want you to work hard, but I will not let you sacrifice the precious little time you have with God and family, and I am not sorry.

Some boyfriends will want to use you up for what you can do for them. Some coaches will want to use you up for what games you can help them win. Some bosses will use you up for their company’s profit. Set boundaries. Find purpose and self-worth in Christ, not in dusty trophies or pats on the back.

Remember always, someone who says they love you will not scream at you for a length of time or fly off in a fit of rage and shake it off like it’s nothing. That’s not love. It might be good coaching, but it’s not ever love.

Play with all your heart. Take your licks. Accept constructive criticism. Welcome instruction and advice from your coaches. Encourage your teammates. Go to the optional extra practices. Stay later and hit. Bust your butt out there. I expect nothing remotely less. Keep your head in the game and your eyes on the ball.

Run fast. I will always cheer for you.

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